The Nilgiri Mountain Railway yesterday completed 100 years of its rich history. We were lucky enough to travel on it in August this year and I would recommend this trip to everybody. It leaves early in the morning from Mettupalayam and takes slightly over four hours to complete its 46 km journey thru the verdant hills and tunnels to finally reach Ooty at around mid-day. A steam engine pushed us upto Coonoor, from where it was the turn of a diesel engine to make the final stretch upto Ooty. What was interesting was the fact that the steam engine which initially huffed and puffed to take us up to Coonoor was built in Winterthur, Switzerland according to the inscription on it!
Here is a picture taken at one of the stops along the route:
What irritates is that this train has come to be known as the 'Chhaiyya Chhaiyya' train as if that were its only raison d'etre. In spite of the fact that three years back, UNESCO has awarded it world heritage status.
Unlike the Darjeeling Mountain Railway, which is run by an autonomous body, the NMR has no administrative set-up — it is just another maintenance assignment of the Salem division. "Unless a separate administrative team, delinked from the Southern Railway, is set up and a special officer appointed to exclusively look after the NMR, it will continue to be neglected," says a senior railway official.
A really sad state of affairs. We as Indians have to learn how to look after our own heritage and the NMR is a part of it.